Black Panther Shatters Social Binaries to Explore Postcolonial Themes: How Ancestry, Identity, Revenge, and the Third Space Impact the Ability to Navigate Change and Create New Forms of Cultural Hybridity
Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
Justine Van Meter, Ph.D.
Joanna Levin, Ph.D.
Samantha Dressel, Ph.D.
In a world climate stricken by hatred, polarity, and revenge, the movie Black Panther continues to offer a unique perspective on pertinent postcolonial themes that still haunt today. This paper will review how the movie reverses, eliminates, or shatters social binaries to explore such postcolonial themes as: Gothicism, anticolonialism, Orientalism, gender roles, hybridity, and ancestry. Through its characters and their relationships, I will analyze how the film presents overriding factors, such as ancestry, heritage, identity, trauma, anger, hatred, and revenge, and how they impact an individual’s ability to successfully navigate change. This includes exploring how the film offers resolutions through its main character’s ability to enter and dwell within Homi Bhabha’s Third Space in order to innovate, transform, and create new forms of cultural hybridity.
By reviewing and comparing postcolonial principles of pioneering theorists, such as Frantz Fanon, Albert Memmi, Edward Said, and Homi Bhabha, we will see how Black Panther interprets these concepts and presents them in innovative ways to cultivate a means of understanding and reformation in today’s highly politicized climate. Through the fictional country of Wakanda, Black Panther celebrates ancestral heritage and rises above restrictive binaries to overcome isolationist and exclusionary thought in order to create new and meaningful postcolonial roadmaps for the future. In a nod to Bhabha’s concept of a Third Space, Wakanda seeks to create and reconstruct a new “nationness, community interest, and “cultural value” (Bhabha 2). Black Panther embraces heritage while shattering social binaries to provide lessons on how to navigate cultural hybridity and continual change.
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Paquin, Deborah J. Black Panther Shatters Social Binaries to Explore Postcolonial Themes: How Ancestry, Identity, Revenge, and the Third Space Impact the Ability to Navigate Change and Create New Forms of Cultural Hybridity. 2021. Chapman University, MA Thesis. Chapman University Digital Commons, https://doi.org/10.36837/chapman.000244